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would probably be the Alexandrian, by what we have already seen of the testimonies of Pantænus and Clement. The words “let it have credit for the circumstance” must be taken as meaning, “I have no wish to deprive it of this its peculiar advantage :" and the ground, "for not in vain have the ancients handed it down ds Paul's," must be his own conviction, that the thoughts of the Epistle proceeded originally from the Apostle. Who “ the ancients” were, it is impossible for us to say. Possibly, if we confine our view to one church, no more than Pantænus and Clement, and their disciples. One thing is very plain; that they cannot have been men whose tradition satisfied Origen himself, or he would not have spoken as he has. Be they who they might, one thing is plain ; that their tradition is spoken of by him as not in vain, not as resting on external matter of fact, but as finding justification in the internal character of the Epistle; and that it did not extend to the fact of St. Paul having written the Epistle, but only to its being, in some sense, his.
21. Thirdly, that the authorship of the Epistle was regarded by Origen as utterly unknown. Thus only can we interpret the words, " but who wrote the Epistle, God only knows the truth.” For that it is in vain to attempt to understand the word wrote of the mere scribe, in the sense of Rom. xvi. 22, is shewn by its use in the same sentence, “ Luke who wrote the Gospel and the Acts."
22. This passage further testifies respecting external tradition, as it had come down to Origen himself. He speaks of “ the account which has come down to us :" clearly meaning these words of historical tradition, and thereby by implication excluding from that category the tradition of the Pauline authorship. And this historical tradition gave two views : one, that Clement of Rome was the Writer; the other, that St. Luke was the Writer.
23. And this last circumstance is of importance, as being our only clue out of a difficulty which Bleek has felt, but has not attempted to
We find ourselves otherwise in this ambiguity with regard to the origin of one or the other hypothesis. If the Pauline authorship was the original historical tradition, the difficulties presented by the Epistle itself were sure to have called it in doubt, and suggested the other: if on the other hand the name of any disciple of St. Paul was delivered down by historical tradition as the writer, the apostolicity and Pauline character of the thoughts, coupled with the desire to find a great name for an anonymous Epistle, was sure to have produced, and when produced would easily find acceptance for, the idea that St. Paul was the author. But the fact that Origen speaks of “the account which has come down to us," not as for, but as against the Pauline hypothesis, seems to shew that the former of these alternatives was really the case.
24. As far then as we have at present advanced, we seem to have gathered the following as the probable result, as to the practice and state of opinion in the Alexandrine church :
(a) That it was customary to speak of and quote from the Epistle as the work of St. Paul.
(6) That this was done by writers of discernment, and familiarity with the apostolic writings, not because they thought the style and actual writing to be St. Paul's, but as seeing that from the nature of the thoughts and matter, the Epistle was worthy of and characteristic of that Apostle; thus feeling that it was not without reason that those before them had delivered the Epistle down to them as St. Paul's.
(c) That we nowhere find trace of historical tradition asserting the Pauline authorship : but on the contrary, we find it expressly quoted on the other side.
25. We now pass to other portions of the church: and next, to proconsular Africa. Here we find, in the beginning of the third century, the testimony of TERTULLIAN, expressly ascribing the Epistle to Barnabas. “ There exists also a writing under the name of Barnabas, addressed to the Hebrews; a man of sufficient authority, considering that Paul ranked him with himself in the practice of abstinence (1 Cor. ix. 6).” And then he cites Heb. vi. 4—8, as an admonition of Barnabas.
26. From the way in which the Epistle is here simply cited as the work of Barnabas, we clearly see that this was no mere opinion of Tertullian's own, but at all events the accepted view of that portion of the church. He does not hint at any doubt on the matter. But here again we are at a loss, from what source to derive this view. Either, supposing Barnabas really the author, genuine historical tradition may have been its source,
or lacking such tradition, some in the African church may originally have inferred this from the nature of the contents of the Epistle; and the view may subsequently have become general there. One thing however the testimony shews beyond all doubt: that the idea of a Pauline authorship was wholly unknown to Tertullian, and to those for whom he wrote.
27. If it were necessary further to confirm evidence so decisive, we might do so by citing his charge against Marcion, of falsifying the number of the Epistles of St. Paul: “ Yet I am astonished, seeing that he received Epistles written to individuals, that he has rejected the two to Timothy, and one to Titus, on the state of the church. He has taken upon him, I fancy, also to falsify the number of the Epistles."
Now seeing that Marcion held ten Epistles only of St. Paul, it would
• On the phænomenon of the diversity of traditions, see below, par. 36 ff.
appear by combining this with the former testimony, that the Epistle to the Hebrews was not here reckoned among them.
28. Among the witnesses belonging to the end of the second and beginning of the third century, none is of more weight than IRENÆUS, a Greek of Asia Minor by birth, and bishop of Lyons in Gaul, and thus representing the testimony of the church in both countries. In his great work against Heresies, he makes frequent use of the Epistles of St. Paul, expressly quoting twelve of them. There is no citation from the Epistle to Philemon, which may well be, from its brevity, and its personal character. But nowhere in this work has he cited or referred to the Epistle to the Hebrews at all, although it would have been exceedingly apposite for his purpose, as against the Gnostics of his time.
" that a work of Irenæus was extant in his time, called treatises concerning various matters, wherein he quoted passages from the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Wisdom of Solomon.” From this it would seem that Eusebius was unable to find any citations of the Epistle in other works of Irenæus known to him. And he does not even here say that Irenæus mentioned St. Paul as the author of the Epistle.
29. Indeed we have a testimony which goes to assert that this Father distinctly denied the Pauline authorship. Photius cites a passage from Stephen Gobar, a tritheist of the sixth century, in which he says, “ that Hippolytus and Irenæus assert the Epistle to the Hebrews, commonly ascribed to Paul, not to be by him.” The same is indeed asserted of Hippolytus by Photius himself: but it is strange, if Irenæus had asserted it, that Eusebius should have made no mention of the fact, adducing as he does the citation of the Epistle by him. At the same time, Gobar's language is far too precise to be referred to the mere fact that Irenæus does not cite the Epistle as St. Paul's, as some have endeavoured to refer it: and it is to be remembered, that Eusebius does not pretend to have read or seen all the works of Irenæus then extant. Bleek puts the alternative well, according as we accept, or do not accept, the assertion of Gobar. If we accept it, it would shew that Irenæus had found somewhere prevalent the idea that St. Paul was the author ; otherwise he would not have taken the pains to contradict such an idea. If we do not accept it as any more than a negative report, meaning that Irenæus nowhere cites the Epistle as St. Paul's, then at all events, considering that he constantly cites St. Paul's Epistles as his, we shall have the presumption, that he neither accepted, nor knew of, any such idea as the Pauline authorship.
30. If we now pass to the church of Rome, we find, belonging to the period of which we have been treating, the testimony of the presbyter Caius. Of him Eusebius relates, “that in a dialogue published by him, he speaks of thirteen Epistles only written by Paul, not numbering
among them that to the Hebrews, because it is even till now (Euse. bius's time) thought by some at Rome not to be the Apostle's.
These words can lead only to one of two inferences : that Caius, not numbering the Epistle among those of St. Paul, either placed it by itself, or did not mention it at all. In either case, he must be regarded as speaking, not his own private judgment merely, but that of the church to which he belonged, in which, as we further learn, the same judgment yet lingered more than a century after.
31. Another testimony is that of the fragment respecting the canon of the New Test., first published by Muratori, and known by his name, generally ascribed to the end of the second or the beginning of the third century. In this fragment it is stated, that St. Paul wrote Epistles to seven churches; and his thirteen Epistles are enumerated, in a peculiar order: but that to the Hebrews is not named, unless it be distantly hinted at, which is not probable.
32. As far then as we have advanced, the following seems to be our result. Nowhere, except in the Alexandrine church, does there seem to have existed any idea that the Epistle was St. Paul's. Throughout the whole Western Church, it is either left unenumerated among his writings, or expressly excluded from them. That it is wholly futile to attempt to refer this to any influence of the Montanist or Marcionite disputes, has been well and simply shewn by Bleek. The idea of the catholic teachers of the whole Western Church disparaging and excluding an apostolical book, because one passage of it (ch. vi. 4-6) seemed to favour the tenets of their adversaries, is too preposterous ever to have been suggested, except in the interests of a desperate cause : and the fact that Tertullian, himself a Montanist, cites Heb. vi. 4–6 on his side, but without ascribing it to St. Paul, is decisive against the notion that his adversaries so ascribed it at any time : for he would have been sure in that case to have charged them with their desertion of such an opinion.
33. And even in the Alexandrine Church itself, as we have seen, there is no reliable trace of a historical tradition of the Pauline authorship. Every expression which seems to imply this, such e. g. as that muchadduced one of Origen, " for not in vain have the ancients handed it down as being Paul's," when fairly examined, gives way under us. The traditional account, though inconsistent with itself, was entirely the
34. The fair account then of opinion in the latter end of the second century seems to be this: that there was then, as now, great uncertainty regarding the authorship of our Epistle : that the general cast of the thoughts was recognized as Pauline, and that the ancients, whatever that may imply, had not unreasonably handed it down as St. Paul's : but on what grounds, we are totally unable to say: for ecclesiastical tradition does not bear them out. In proconsular Africa it was ascribed to Barnabas: by the tradition which had come down to Origen and his fellows, to Luke or Clement; while the Western Church, even when judged of by Irenæus, who was brought up in Asia, and even including the Church of Rome, the capital of the world, where all reports on such matters were sure to be ventilated, seems to have been altogether without any positive tradition or opinion on the matter.
35. Before advancing with the history, which has now become of secondary importance to us, I will state to what, in my own view, this result points, as regarding the formation of our own conclusion on the matter.
36. It simply leaves us, unfettered by any overpowering judgment of antiquity, to examine the Epistle for ourselves, and form our own opinion from its contents. Even were we to admit the opinion of a Pauline authorship to the rank of an early tradition, which it does not appear in the strict sense to have been, we should then have ancient ecclesiastical tradition broken into various lines, and inconsistent with itself: not requiring our assent to one or other of its numerous variations. Those who are prepared to follow it, and it alone, will have to make
their minds whether they will attach themselves to the catechetical school of Alexandria, and if so, whether to that portion of it (if such portion existed, which is not proved) which regarded the Epistle as purely and simply the work of St. Paul, or to that which, with Clement, regarded the present Epistle as a Greek version by St. Luke of a Hebrew original by St. Paul,—or to the West African Church, which regarded it as written by Barnabas; or to the "story” or “account” mentioned by Origen, in its Clementine or its Lucan branch ; or to the negative view of the churches of Europe.
37. For to one or other of these courses, and on these grounds, would the intelligent follower of tradition be confined. It would be in vain for him to allege, as a motive for his opinion, the subsequent universal prevalence of one or other of these views, unless he could at the same time shew that that prevalence was owing to the overpowering force of an authentic tradition, somewhere or other existing. That the whole church of Rome believed the Pauline authorship in subsequent centuries, would be no compensation for the total absence of such belief at that time when, if there were any such authentic tradition any where, it must have prevailed in that church. That the same was uniformly asserted and acted on by the writers of the Alexandrine church in later ages, does not tend to throw any light on the vague uncertainty which hangs over the first appearances of the opinion, wherever it is spoken of and its grounds alleged by such earlier teachers as Clement and Origen.
38. And these considerations are much strengthened, when we take into account what strong reasons there were why the opinion of the